Quanjude (Group) Co Ltd, China's oldest Peking duck restaurant chain, plans to switch to electric ovens and replace traditional hand-roasting methods.
The move is aimed at maintaining food quality while the company expands its business across China, following its listing on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange a month ago.
Traditionally, the duck is hung in the oven and roasted by fruitwood flames. It takes about 45 minutes to cook a duck and chefs make continuous adjustments to ensure even roasting.
Xing Ying, Quanjude's general manager, spoke yesterday to Beijing Morning Post. He said the electric ovens, which are operated by a computer and were jointly developed by Quanjude and a German company, are based on handmade techniques, but simplify roasting procedures.
Many of the Beijing-based outlets, as well as those in other regions of the country, must use the new ovens to ensure quality standards, Xing said.
However, many worry the ducks may lose the firewood flavor and that computer-controlled roasting may not be as precise as an experienced chef.
Many also consider the chef-monitored roasting technique, passed on for over 140 years, to be a key Quanjude tradition and part of Beijing's culture. Computerized production may diminish the brand's luster.
Quanjude said they will spray a special natural fruit juice on the ducks before roasting and promised to maintain traditional hand-roasting techniques in some key Beijing restaurants.
The company, which sells more than 3 million ducks a year to some 5 million patrons, has raised 388 million yuan ($52 million) on the Shenzhen bourse to support its goal of growing into an international brand.
The company said it would use proceeds for outlet renovation and expansion, as well as for upgrading its food production bases and logistic centers.
Quanjude has nine restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and Changchun and 61 franchised outlets, including 56 on the mainland and five overseas.
Founded in 1864 during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the last imperial rulers of China, Quanjude is one of the most renowned restaurants in China. Eating roast duck has become a main attraction for overseas tourists.
1.How long does it usually take to roast a duck by traditional methods?
2.The chef-monitored roasting technique has been passed on for how many years?
3.How many patrons does the restaurant serve each year?
4.When was Quanjude founded?
3. Some 5 million.
（英语点津 Celene 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Jonathan Stewart is a media and journalism expert from the United States with four years of experience as a writer and instructor. He accepted a foreign expert position with chinadaily.com.cn in June 2007 following the completion of his Master of Arts degree in International Relations and Comparative Politics.